Children today are gifted with stories that celebrate all kinds of people and spread positive messages about celebrating and accepting our differences. However, the children of today are just that: children. They still have some way to go before they take over fashion empires and get their chance to make their mark in the industry. In the meantime, we can only analyze how designers and casting directors performed on the diversity front, at NYFW.
I’m relieved to say that it starts on a positive note. The Fashion Spot stated in its diversity report, that ‘at least two models of color’ were featured in every show and 36.9% of models cast were non-white. Though New York has generally tended to exceed London, Paris, and Milan in its runway inclusivity (only 24.7% of models were non-white in Milan Spring 2018), it now seems to have entered a competition with itself and managed to considerably out-do its Fall 2017 figure, of 31.5%.
This year, more designers than ever seemed to come to the realization that plus-size bodies also possess the ability to wear their clothes. TFS noted 93 plus-size appearances this season, a phenomenal leap from the 30 book in Fall 2017. Jocelyn Corona has been the season’s most booked plus-size model (4 shows) and notable figures Ashley Graham and Candice Huffine both walked for Prabal Gurung show. Graham also featured in Michael Kors, Christian Siriano and Addition Elle- a brand which frequently books models such as Jordyn Woods, Karissa Rodriguez, and Marquita Pring.
In their fashion week debut, Torrid accounted for 31 of the plus-size models who appeared in New York, strengthening their reputation for diverse representation. The standout plus-size moment of NYFW undoubtedly belongs to Emme, who in the Chromat show not only flew a banner for plus-size women but also women over 50. Natalie Nooteboom's booking for Anna Sui, where she walked alongside Gigi and Bella Hadid, follows close behind.
In demand models: Further highlighting the success of racial and cultural diversity at NYFW, 4 of the 11 top models were women of color. Charlee Fraser, an Indigenous Australian, walked 20 shows in New York, and booked 50 shows this season, putting her in joint first place as the most in-demand model, with McKenna Hellam. In an interview with WWD, Fraser rightly stated “my success isn’t measured by my heritage” but that she hopes that she can bridge the gap “between ethnicity and the fashion industry”. Others who made the list include Chinese model He Chong (14 NY appearances), Brazilian Aira Ferreira (12 NY appearances) and Korean Yoon Young Bae (35 shows this season). Sadly no trans, plus-size or mature models made the top 11 this year, however, TFS reported that transgender model Teddy Quinlivan, came close with 11 shows.
As is the case with many things, nothing happens overnight. And although there's still some way to go, Spring 2018 proved that change in the fashion industry has well and truly begun.